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Love Increases Health in Shelter Cats

Cuddling and playing with shelter cats helps them stay healthy and content.

Have you ever heard the saying, "love conquers all"?

A study done on shelter cats indicates that, if nothing else, love may be able to reduce upper respiratory infections.

The Study: Gentling Cats

Upon entering a shelter, 96 cats were all evaluated as being healthy and content. They were then divided into 2 groups. The first group was "gentled." That means that, for 10 minutes a day, someone held, played with, cooed to, and cuddled the kitty. Cats in the second group did not have the 10 minute per day "gentling" contact. Instead, someone merely came and stood in front of their cage for 10 minutes.

The results of this study were that cats that were "gentled" were less likely to develop upper respiratory infections after 10 days than those that did not receive the cuddling and interaction (Nadine Gourkow, 2015). The un-gentled cats were more likely to have an upper respiratory infection and act less content at the end of the 10 days.

What Does This Mean?

At the very least, this study shows us that cuddling with and being kind to shelter cats can help keep their immune systems stronger. Practically, this could lead to decreased costs of operation for shelters, increased adoption rates because gentled cats will be healthier and have better attitudes, and ultimately, lower shelter euthanasia rates.

More broadly, this study may tell us something general about how we can help keep our own pet cats healthier. More cuddles. It's our bet that there isn't a cat owner around who would balk at that prescription!

Works Cited

  1. Nadine Gourkow, C. J. (2015, Oct. 1). Effect of interactions with humans on behaviour, mucosal immunity and upper respiratory disease of shelter cats rated as contented on arrival. Retrieved from

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